The Methane Launched From the Broken Nord Stream Pipeline is Seen From House

On September 26, 2022, leaks had been found within the underwater Nord Stream 1 and a couple of fuel pipelines, positioned close to Denmark and Sweden. Each pipelines are owned by Russia and had been constructed to move pure fuel from Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea. Officers have stated the leaks had been attributable to deliberate motion, not accidents, and had been seemingly intentional sabotage. Whereas accusations have abounded, the motives behind the injury aren’t but identified.

Seismic disturbances within the Baltic Sea had been detected, and officers stated that whereas neither pipeline was transporting fuel on the time of the blasts, they nonetheless contained pressurized methane, which is the principle part of pure fuel. The methane has now spewed out, producing a large stream of bubbles on the ocean floor that are seen from numerous satellites in Earth orbit.


On September 20, 2022 a GHGSat satellite tv for pc noticed the realm of the Nordstream pipeline break, and noticed an estimated emission price of methane of 79,000 kg per hour – making it the biggest methane leak ever detected by GHGSat from a single point-source. Credit score: GHGSat and ESA.

The non-public firm GHGSat, which has lively satellites monitoring methane emissions from area turned their constellation of high-resolution satellites to measure the pipeline leak. In keeping with a European House Company launch, GHGSat tasked its radar and microwave satellites to acquire measurements at bigger viewing angles and was in a position to goal the realm the place the Solar’s mild mirrored the strongest off the ocean floor – often called the ‘glint spot.’

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What they discovered is that on September 30, the estimated emission price, as seen from its first methane focus measurement was 79,000 kg (174,000 kilos) per hour, which makes this the biggest methane leak ever detected by GHGSat from a single point-source. GHGSat stated this price is extraordinarily excessive, particularly contemplating this picture comes 4 days following the preliminary breach, and this is just one of 4 rupture factors within the pipeline. In a press launch, the corporate stated this quantity of methane is equal to greater than 90,000 kg (2 million kilos) of coal being burned in a single hour. 

ESA stated that “monitoring methane over water is extraordinarily troublesome as water absorbs many of the daylight within the shortwave infrared wavelengths used for methane distant sensing. This limits the quantity of sunshine reaching the sensor, thus making it extraordinarily troublesome to measure methane concentrations over the ocean at excessive latitudes.” Cloud cowl contributed to the issue in making satellite tv for pc observations of this occasion.

Though methane partly dissolves in water, and isn’t poisonous, it’s the second most ample anthropogenic greenhouse fuel in our ambiance inflicting local weather change.

“The facility of lively microwave radar devices is that they’ll monitor the ocean floor signatures of effervescent methane via clouds over a large swath and at a excessive spatial decision overcoming one of many main limitations to optical devices,” stated ESA’s Scientist for Ocean and Ice, Craig Donlon. “This enables for a extra full image of the catastrophe and its related event-timing to be established.”

Subsequently, different Earth statement satellites carrying optical and radar imaging devices had been known as upon to characterize the fuel leak effervescent within the Baltic.

Nord Stream as captured by Planet Dove pillarsOn September 26, Planet Labs Planet Dove satellite tv for pc captured a picture of the Nord Stream Fuel pipeline rupture within the Baltic Sea, roughly 20 km southeast of Bornholm Island, Denmark. Credit score Planet Labs

Planet Labs’ Planet Dove satellite tv for pc confirmed a effervescent disturbance within the Baltic Sea starting from 500 to 700 m throughout the water’s floor.

Different satellites noticed these views of the realm:

ICEYE image from 28 September pillarsThis radar picture was captured on September 28 by ICEYE— the primary New House firm to affix the Copernicus Contributing Missions fleet. Credit score: ICEYENord Stream leak as captured by Pleiades Neo pillarsFuel leaking within the Baltic Sea on September 29, 2022 from one of many broken Nord Stream pipelines seen effervescent as much as the floor by a Pléiades Neo satellite tv for pc. Credit score: Airbus/Pléiades Neo.

A number of days later, a major discount within the estimated diameter of the methane disturbance was seen because the pipelines’ fuel emptied. This animation from the Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellite tv for pc confirms this, because it reveals views from September 30 and October 3, 2022.

Gas leak detected by Copernicus Sentinel 2 articleNord Stream pipeline fuel leak detected by Copernicus Sentinel-2. Credit score: ESA.

Right here’s a map of the area the place the pipelines are. Whereas the leak is not a risk, the repercussions of this catastrophe stay.

Nordstream pipeline map with shipping traffic articleNordstream pipeline map with transport site visitors lanes. Credit score: ESA

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